The first anniversary of the official launch of 361 Energy was on 29th June 2013.  We marked this occasion with the 361 Green Safari, a minibus tour of renewable energy sites across North Devon.  361 Energy is a partner in a European project called SEACS, which includes groups from Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Brittany, France.  Over this weekend, families from the French partners in the project visited some of the partner groups in Devon.   Eleven of the French visitors joined us on the trip, taking the total number to almost 40.

The tour started at Ilfracombe Junior School, the site of our Ilfracombe launch a year earlier and also the location of a 33kW solar PV array.  361 Energy are currently helping the school drive forward energy efficiency improvements.  We then travelled in two minibuses and a people carrier up to the Head Office of Philip Dennis Foodservice.  There we met Chris Dennis, who kindly showed us around the 800 kW Enercon E-48 turbine they had installed in March 2012 (see video).  Before deciding on this particular turbine, the Dennis family visited the factory where it was manufactured.  The Enercon does not have a gearbox and this enables it to start operating at lower wind speeds.  We were fortunate to be able to go through the service door and look up the tower.

Our next visit was a short distance over to Fullabrook wind farm where we were given a site visit arranged through the owners ESB.  Everyone found it interesting driving through the turbines and we stopped off at Turbine number 14 to get out and look at one of the 3MW Vestas V90 turbine.  There were plenty of opportunities to ask questions about the construction and operation of the turbines from our guide, Rory.

We then drove to the Calvert Trust to make a brief visit to see several renewable installations on their site, before driving on to Lynmouth.  The schedule I created was rather ambitious and did not take into account delays through organising nearly 40 people, toilet stops and the desire for an extended lunch in Lynmouth.  As a result we arrived at Glen Lyn Gorge rather later than planned.

A few of us who wanted to visit the renewable installations on a nearby farm then split from the main group.  We were kindly shown around by Ben Eardley from Exmoor National Park on his birthday and were able to see a much smaller Proven 6kW wind turbine along with a 90kW wood chip biomass boiler.  This was of particular interest to one member of the group who has been investigating potential biomass boilers.  Apart from having a lower fuel cost than heating oil, biomass boilers have been made more attractive by the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Our group then managed to join the others at the Glen Lyn Gorge.   Apart from a very attractive walk up the gorge, there is the Power of Water exhibition and a working 300kW hydroelectric turbine.  The site also has several water wheels and the turbine blades from the Sea Flow tidal turbine which was tested off the coast of Lynmouth.

We then headed back to Ilfracombe, later than planned, but after an informative and enjoyable day out.  We would like to thank all those who helped us with the site visits, Ilfracombe C of E Junior School, our drivers Chris and Chris and Devon County Council for their assistance with organisation.  Further photos from the visit can be seen in the Gallery

We are developing further events and projects.  These include

  • 361 Empower, where we will be offering advice on energy saving and sources of funding to improve the energy efficiency of properties for those in fuel poverty in Ilfracombe.
  • 361 Green Doors on 14th & 15th September, where members of the public can visit homes across Northern Devon which have energy saving and renewable technologies installed.
  • Free Energy Clinic in Ilfracombe to learn more about renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency improvements (Date, time and location TBC)

Watch our website and Twitter feed for further announcements.